Children in hazardous work are quite often the silent majority within child labour. They are often eclipsed by other forms of child labour such as trafficking and sadly, become subsumed within the general efforts directed towards the elimination of child labour. Still too few policies or programmes are geared to the special needs of children who do hazardous work. Photo:ILO/Crozet M.
The ILO estimates that there are some 215 million child labourers. This figure represents a little over 7% of all children worldwide. Of this total, 115 million are engaged in hazardous forms of child labour. Hazardous child labour is the largest category of the worst forms of child labour, with sectors as diverse as agriculture, mining, construction, manufacturing, service industries, hotels, bars, restaurants, fast food establishments, and domestic service. Photo:ILO/Khemka A.
Hazardous child labour is work in dangerous or unhealthy conditions that could result in a child being killed, injured and/ or made ill as a consequence of poor safety and health standards and working arrangements.The work hazards and risks that affect adult workers can have a devastating impact on the safety and health of child labourers. Photo:ILO/Lissac P.
What is worse is the fact that many of the industries to which child labourers are exposed are often unregulated by safety and health ministries. This can result in more fatal and non-fatal accidents, ill health, and psychological/behavioural/emotional damage. Some of the results from ill health and injury may result in permanent disability. Other health problems may not show up until the child reaches adulthood. Photo:ILO/
41 million girls and 74 million boys are estimated to perform hazardous forms of child labour. Photo:ILO/
There was hardly any change in the percentage of boys (of all ages) who were involved in hazardous work between 2004 and 2008. However, the figure for girls declined by 24 per cent (from 54 to 41 million) during the same time period. Photo:ILO/Khemka A.
Young boy working in a coal mine in Potosí, Bolivia.
There has also been a steady decline in the number of children in the 5-14 age group who perform hazardous types of work. Between 2000 and 2008, the figures decreased by a little over half - from 111.3 million to 53 million. Photo:ILO/Crozet M.
Unfortunately, this progress has not been witnessed amongst the older age groups. Older children are disproportionately affected by this form of work. While less than 1/3 of younger children in employment (5-14 years) are involed in hazardous work, almost half of all children aged 15-17 who are employed, are engaged in work classified as hazardous. The number increased sharply by 10.5 million, from 51.9 million to 62.4 million over a four year period (2004 to 2008). Photo:ILO/Crozet M.
The largest number of children who perform hazardous work is in the Asian and Pacific region. The figures for 2008 indicate that 48,164 or 5.6 per cent of the children in this region are engaged in this field of work. Photo:ILO/
The largest percentage of children involved in hazardous work is found in Sub-Saharan Africa. 15 per cent of all Sub-Saharan African children are involved in hazardous forms of child labour. Photo:ILO/Khemka A.
The vast majority of the world's child labourers work on farms and plantations, often from sun up to sun down, planting and harvesting crops, spraying pesticides, and tending livestock on rural farms and plantations.The highest concentration of hazardous child labour is in agriculture (59%). Photo:ILO/Derrien J.M.
This little boy works as a street seller in the camps by the goldmines of Komabangou, Niger. 30% of the children who perform hazardous forms of labour work in services (domestic and street-based work). Photo:ILO/Crozet M.
Domestic service often involves carrying heavy loads (laundry, water, children), being exposed to fires and hot stoves, handling household chemicals and using sharp knives, as well as deprivation of education. Since a proportion of these children, mostly girls, are very young, these seemingly trivial tasks can be both arduous and dangerous. Photo:ILO/Maillard J.
11% of the children who perform hazardous forms of labour work in industry (small workshops, mining and construction). These children work in the gem polishing industry in Jaipur, India. Photo:ILO/Khemka A.
Children carrying bricks from a quarry. The concept of construction might bring to mind skyscrapers and other large projects. But the life of a child labourer who works in the construction industry isn't nearly as glamorous. The injuries associated with this type of work are frightening: joint and bone deformities; lacerations; back and muscle injury; head trauma; broken bones from falls; electrocution; noise-induced hearing loss; breathing difficulties and the list goes on. Photo:ILO/
Mining is a form of work that is dangerous to children in every way. Mining areas are notorious for violence, prostitution, drug-and alcohol use and crime. The heavy loads and strenuous work, the unstable underground structures, heavy tools and equipment, the toxic and often explosive chemicals, and the exposure to extremes of heat and cold all pose grave hazards to the children who work in this sector. About one million children work in mines, and the number is increasing. Photo:ILO/
Young child of 7 attending unpaid training to become a weaver. He lives and sleeps in a workshop with little light in order not to damage the fabrics. All day long he produces fabrics which are sold only locally. Once trained, these children earn a salary of 1 dollar per month, when paid. Several thousand children work in hundreds of workshops like this in the suburbs of Addis Ababa,Ethiopia. Photo:ILO/Crozet M.
Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil. Sidney's dream was to become of football player. Instead of feeling the heat of the match, he suffered from the smoke-blackened hell of the charcoal chimneys. In addition to suffering from the physical and emotional effects of hard labour, many of the children who work in this dangerous field are unable to attend school due to the long hours of their jobs or the lack of financial resources. Photo:ILO/Ripper J.
All of these industries pose a potential threat to the safety and well-being of child labourers. In agriculture, children may be exposed to toxic fertilizers or dangerous blades or tools; in mining they may face the risk of mine collapse or work with explosives; in construction they may be at risk from injury related to dangerous machinery; in scavenging they may risk at risk of infection from exposure to toxic chemicals and wastes. Photo:ILO/Deloche P.
Sick young servant. Sevaré, Mali.
There is growing evidence that adolescents suffer higher rates of injury at work in comparision with adult workers. Data show that in the USA, rates of injury for children aged 15-17 is nearly twice that of workers aged 25 years and older. Photo:ILO/Crozet M.
IPEC's work to eliminate child labour is an important facet of the ILO's Decent Work Agenda. Child labour not only prevents children from acquiring the skills and education they need for a better future, it also perpetuates poverty and affects national economies through losses in competitiveness, productivity and potential income. Withdrawing children from child labour, providing them with education and assisting their families with training and employment opportunities contribute directly to creating decent work for adults. Photo:ILO/Crozet M.
Through IPEC, the ILO manages projects that eliminate child labour and ensure that children attend school. The children pictured here were previously employed as soccer ball sewers. Thanks to an ILO Field Project in their hometown of Sialkot, Pakistan, they are now able to have a happier childhood and concentrate on obtaining a solid education. Photo:ILO/Crozet M.
Another example of the ILO's work in the area of child labour comes from Tanzania, where hundreds of child workers have been withdrawn from domestic service thanks to the collaborative efforts of CHODAWU (Conservation, Hotels, Domestic and Allied Workers Union) and the ILO's International Program on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC). CHODAWU runs a prevention program involving employers, unions, local chiefs and NGOs, teachers and parents, to break the recruitment chain and reintegrate children in their families and school. In their Centre in Dar es Salaam, the children attend school and are also able to learn a trade. Photo:ILO/Crozet M.
In the case of hazardous work, where economic necessity or deeply ingrained tradition blocks attempts to improve conditions for adult workers, it is sometimes the call to stop child labour that can be the entry point to change. Eliminating hazardous work of children can help improve safety and health of all workers. Photo:ILO/Ripper J.
The World Day against Child Labour promotes awareness and action to tackle child labour. Support for the World Day has been growing each year. This year, we look forward to the support of governments, employers' and workers' organizations, UN agencies alike in order to continue to fight against all forms of child labour. Photo:ILO/pool photo ILC